Yesterday, Linda Salinas announced that she had accepted a position as service manager at farm to table restaurant Haven. For the first time since the scooter accident in April 2011 that triggered a massive outpouring of support from across Houston's food community, Salinas will once again be a part of the organized chaos that is life in a restaurant. As service manager, she'll be responsible for running the front of house including retraining Haven's waitstaff and speaking to customers. As she puts it, she'll be "kissing babies and shaking hands."
For Salinas, the move is a natural outgrowth of the ten years of experience she's collected in the restaurant industry, which includes multiple stints in fine dining. People will remember her time at the now-shuttered Voice, where she worked as both a manager and sommelier, but Salinas notes that she also helped train staff at Conroe's Chez Roux when it opened in 2009.
Haven chef Randy Evans sought Salinas to replace Haven's longtime manager Kathryne Castellanos, who came with Evans from Brennan's to open the restaurant. Salinas says that the position came about after she started working at Haven one day a week. Evans "enjoyed the type of service I provide," she says. They "see service the same way. It's about making relationships with people. [Those relationships] makes a restaurant what it is." She notes that if a guest feels he has a relationship with a restaurant, he's more likely to forgive a bad experience.
While Salinas has experience as both a bartender and sommelier, at Haven the wine and cocktail program will be handled by a new general manager. Salinas notes that while she won't be involved in the day to day life of the bar "if he needs me, I'm there."
For her part, Salinas can't wait to be working full time. "I'm jazzed they want me to be part of their team. I've missed the camaraderie of a dining room." Diners have missed you, too, Linda.